Brussels, 25 Mar 2004
Thanks to a moderate hike in its budget, the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) will be able to expand its fellowship and 'science and society' actions to non-EU researchers.
Member states of Europe's main organisation for promoting biosciences, the EMBO, have agreed to increase the budget for postdoctoral fellowships and science and society actions by over one third. Although reportedly falling short of EMBO's expectations, it should be enough in the short term to fund an expanded fellowship programme including non-EU researchers.
Over recent years, EMBO's fellowship committee has found it more difficult to meet increasing demand for grants. Frank Gannon, EMBO's executive director, told the monthly journal Research Europe that the number of postdoctoral applicants went up from 700 to 1 000 last year, "causing concern over success rates and over-subscription".
The committee urged the 24 member states meeting as part of the European Molecular Biology Conference in January to vote for a significant increase in funding to consolidate its existing fellowship programmes and start new activities, such as the 'world programme'.
Held out on the big money
All bar two member states were prepared to give EMBO's fellowship scheme the 40% hike it had called for. Needing a unanimous decision, the lower figure of a 33% increase over six years was finally agreed, with four abstentions reportedly in protest of the smaller amount. "Although I am disappointed that we didn't get the higher funding… it will allow us to meet the challenge of increasing the postdoctoral fellowships," Gannon is quoted as saying.
The increase will at least allow the EMBO to launch two new research topics in its science and society programme: the first exploring the use of animals in research, and the second addressing human tissue legislation in different countries and contexts. Certain parallels can be found between this programme and the Science and Society actions within the European Union's Sixth Framework Programme for research funding.
Established in 1964, the EMBO is made up of around 1 100 eminent scientists whose general aim is to develop a strong transnational approach to molecular biology, and to find ways to improve scientific education and training in this area. It offers short-term (up to three months) and long-term (one to two years) fellowships to researchers, as well as a professional network which promotes enduring collaboration among fellows.